Sunday, July 21, 2013

About being known by God

Jesus said in John 10:14: I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me –

Are you His sheep? 

If Jesus said you are, you are, and when you are, Jesus said He knows you. 

It is NOT what you think, but what Jesus thinks, and so, if Jesus said you are NOT, you are NOT, and He may NOT know you. 

If indeed you are His sheep, Jesus said you would know Him. 

This verse is different from other “controversial” verses, people argue about if one is a sheep (or a goat) or a saved one or NOT, etc.  There is just no ambiguity here, for Jesus said “MY sheep”, i.e. “sheep or NOT sheep”, is in His view/judgment, NOT yours or mine.

And “known by God” refers to, NOT merely as belonging to God; it includes being approved or accepted of, by God, and having His favour.  It is NOT just any “God having knowledge of us”.

When we look up the Greek concordance on the verse John 10:14 above, with regard to “know” or “known”, we will find that the verse specifically used G1097 (ginōskō) for “know”. G1097 has the special meaning of “knowledge grounded on PERSONAL EXPERIENCE” as opposed to those others, from mental perception {G1492 – eido}, from proximity {G1987 – epistamai}, from native insight or 5 senses {G4920 – suniemi}.  The significance of this, is that indeed the Christian faith is one of relationship of the Lord and man; and the Lord has used the metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep, to illustrate.

Therefore, these are the ingredients in the word, know (G1097 – ginosko):
1.   Belonging to.  A sheep which belongs to a shepherd is his.  Those men, believers, who belong to the Lord are His.  We, first, need to belong to Him, that is a pre-requisite.
2.   Personal experience.  There is to be personal experience between the sheep and the shepherd; and so, personal experience between individual believer and the Lord.  Remember, now, the issue is knowing from personal experience; and so, when the Lord said He knows a man, that knowledge is to have come from His personal experience with the individual.  
When the Lord says, “I know you”, it means He has knowledge from the personal experience He has had with you.  If what the Lord claims, is true, that He has had personal experience with you, it also means you have had personal experience with Him, would it NOT be? Yes, it has to be; for the Lord cannot be wrong or made a mistake (We, men, can possibly make a mistake, like we are having a personal experience with the Devil, and we thought we are having a personal experience with God). And so, as John 10:14 said it – As the Shepherd, the Lord knows His sheep, and His sheep would know Him.
Our knowing is NOT coming from mere book knowledge, although it may begin from there; NOT from mere hearing, although it again may begin from there; it has to come from personal experience with the Lord. 

Who does the onus for personal experience lie with? We will NOT deal with it here, in detail, but the simple answer is both, the Lord and you, are involved.  It is definitely NOT it is all God’s part (maybe, I write on this, one day).
3.   Positive knowing and negative knowing.  Here, positive knowing is assumed.  
What is meant by positive and negative knowing.  Simply put, positive knowing give rise to “I know you”, and negative knowing, “I don’t know you”.  In other words, knowing or NOT knowing, is viewed from the angle of whether it is in agreement with God’s justice and righteousness.  If it is NOT, God cannot count that; it is like He cannot put a “+” against it, but a “-“ against it.  Collectively the minuses account for the “I don’t know you”. 
For example, the Gospel is being presented to a man with the Spirit giving understanding, and the man refuses to enter into salvation, that is a negative personal experience, and that is a negative knowing, and it will account for, “I don’t know you”, by the Lord.  Now, this is despite the Lord or God having knowledge of who the man is, etc. 
Another example, you are a believer, meaning you have had, in the past, entered into salvation, and so, have confessed the Lord as your Savior before, and now, you have joined occult men in worshipping Satan, and are adamant NOT to drop the Satanic worship.  The Spirit of Christ prompted you, yet you refuse to acknowledge you are wrong; this is a negative personal experience.  It is a negative knowing, as far as the Lord is concerned. It contributes to the side of “I don’t know you”.
An example of a positive knowing would be this: You are in the park, and are about to take your lunch by digging into the lunch-pack you have bought from the eatery some 15 minutes’ walk away, and you heard prompting from the Spirit of Christ in you, saying to give over your lunch-pack to the beggar seated in another bench, right in front of you, some 50 meters away!  And you respond by walking over to the starving beggar and giving over your lunch-pack to the beggar, despite you are hungry yourself.  This is a positive personal experience the Lord has with you; this is a positive knowing the Lord has, on you.  This contributes to “I know you”.
4.   Be at the station the Lord desires for you.  Personal experience with another, means it involves the 2 parties.  You cannot say I have a personal experience with the Lord, when the Lord is NOT involved!  At the same time, when the Lord does something with another, NOT involving you, it is the other person who had the personal experience with the Lord, NOT you; for it does NOT involve you.
Now, if you engage in evil, do you think the Lord is there, involved with you?  Obviously not.  If you keep at it, you should NOT be surprised that the Lord would say, “I don’t know you, you evildoer!”
All actions are classifiable to either righteous or evil; there is no such thing as a neutral thing, when all parties considered, as far as God is concerned.  Strictly speaking any thought and action God cannot agree to, are evil.  God cannot be expected to have personal experience with you, in evil.  Only in righteousness, can you have personal experience with the Lord.
In general terms, we say, you got to be at the station that God desires for you, if you want positive personal experience and knowing with the Lord (Evil cannot be the station God desires you to be at).
From all of the above, we can understand a believer with positive personal experience and knowing with the Lord, and so, is known by the Lord, is one approved of, and accepted of, by the Lord, and would have His favour, on top of him/her being belonging to the Lord.
From here, we also need to understand which is a “bigger word” and is the preferred setting, “belonging to the Lord” or “be known by the Lord”.  In line with the understanding of the Apostle Paul, it is the latter.  

Essentially, this, I believe is consistent with Paul’s understanding:  Belonging like “this wallet belongs to me”, is desirable, but can be NOT good enough; on the other hand, being known by the Lord, meaning NOT only belongs to, but also with approval of, acceptance of, by the Lord, complete with His favour, is the preferred setting. 
The former can still be destroyed; the latter can look to God taking a stand in the person’s favour.  Paul explained this when confronting the false or heretic teachings and teachers, and he made reference to the Numbers 16’s account of the rebellion of Korah, to illustrate.  We will look at this, a little more, in a little while (Jude, in Jude 1:11, also referenced Korah’s rebellion when speaking about ungodly believers in body of Christ – you can study it, too).
Before we leave this point of “be at the station”, let me say, “be at the station” includes the doing of the works of the station.
5.   The only sure way is found in OUR abiding in the Lord, and the Lord abiding in you.  
One can try to be at where the Lord can come, so that you and the Lord could have personal experience; and we have said, in evil, you cannot expect the Lord to come to share in your evil.  Rather, He may say to you, “I don’t know you, you evildoer!”   Now, this is true still, in spite of the Spirit of Christ is indwelling us or God is omnipresence.  These two facts (indwelling and omnipresence) do NOT mean automatically, God is having personal experience with you.
Instead of hoping the Lord to get involved with you, why don’t you get involved with the Lord; in other words, YOU GO ABIDE in Him, and when it is you join Him (and NOT the other way round - you hope He joins you), you can be sure, He is abiding in you.  The Lord would NOT say, “I don’t know you!” and he would NOT say, “You evildoer!” for He cannot be up to anything unrighteous.
The issue of mutual abiding is important, for if the Lord is NOT abiding, it is you are doing your own thing; there is no personal experience with the Lord.
6.     The key is your love for God.  At point 5, I said to abide in the Lord; why would one be more than willing, in fact, desirous, of doing that?  

Because of love; love desires personal experience. NOT just personal experience, but postive personal experience.  From positive personal experience comes positive knowing.

Think about it, is it NOT when you love someone, you desire to spend time doing things together with “the someone”?  Honestly, what are lovers looking for, in personal experiences; it cannot be negative experiences that you are after?!  It cannot be that you want to be in disagreements all the time, fighting every now and then, and then each expects the other to accept or engage in things against each other’s values.  If it is negative so often the times, split would be inevitable, and eventually, distancing would lead to “I don’t know him/her; he/she horrible guy/gal!”

1 Cor 8:3 (NIV) said this: “But the man who loves God is known by God.”
Your love is what motivates you to abide in the Lord.  What do you treasure most?  Your loved ones (If you have NOT said, “The Lord”, I hope this is your answer {of course, the Lord is supposed to be in there}).  Scripture said, where your treasure is, there your heart will be.  Do you love the Lord?  Or do you love money more than you love the Lord?  Love for the world or anything in it, is enmity with God, do you know that; (it is given in 1 John 2:15 & James 4:4)? 
Focus your love on the Lord; is NOT it is the greatest commandment, that you love the Lord your God with all of you, all your heart, soul, mind and strength?!
Revolt/rebellion of Korah
Remember, in point 4 above, I said that the Apostle Paul was underscoring “Be known by God” is the preferred position over just belonging to the Lord, per se.  For when the one known by God is challenged, God will stand for him; for the challenger, despite belonging, mere belonging, to God, he can even be destroyed. 
In that failed revolt of Korah against the High Priest, Aaron (and Moses’ leadership) (Numbers 16), in Num 16:5 Moses said this: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him…” (this was being spoken about by the Apostle Paul as “known by God” in 2 Tim 2:19). The account ended with the Korah’s camp gotten swallowed up by the ground opening up!  Justice was served.  Aaron (and Moses) was vindicated. 
Obviously, “who belongs to him (God)” means more than like in “this wallet belongs to me”! You should know that both Korah and Aaron belonged to God.  Firstly, they were both God’s children or people.  Secondly, both held positions of office, but different offices, one was a Levite head (Korah), another, the High Priest, NOT just a Levite.  It is, when you belong (to God), you don’t just belong (as in the wallet belongs to me; that is given), you should also be at the station God deems just (this includes, doing whatever that station requires of you), and when you are so, at the station God deems just, you have His approval, his acceptance, and his favour.  Korah and his fellow Levites’ station was to assist the High Priest to care for the holy things of the Tabernacle; and that of Aaron, was being the High Priest to minister to the LORD (And when we include Moses, Moses’ station was that of being the leader (called of God)).

Some more examples of God knowing, from Scripture
I give us a few more verses (apart from the above John 10:14, 1 Cor 8:3, & 2 Tim 2:19) from Scripture that revealed about God knowing those who are loving Him (unto righteousness), embracing His justice and righteousness (love unto righteousness necessitates embracing His justice and righteousness), and walking blameless before Him, or who are godly:

Ps 1:6 - For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.  Do you watch over the ones you know or the ones you don’t know?!

Ps 37:17-18 – 17 for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous. 18 The days of the blameless are known to the LORD, and their inheritance will endure forever.  Again, God is said to watch over and protect the righteous, and his inheritance.  Why God knows and watches over the righteous is because one loving God, cannot but (a) embraces His righteousness [loving God back with his kinda of love - love unto righteousness - an article to come], and (b) obeys God's commands [John 14:15 & 21a].  God knows the ones who love Him

Ps 37:23-25 - 23 If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; 24 though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. 25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

Nahum 1:7 KJV - The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.  Many translations use other words (like “cares”) for the word, “knoweth”, I suspect, it is due to the lack of conviction of how “trust in Him” would lead to God knowing the person.  Using scripture to interpret scripture, and so, using Pro 3:5-6 -Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight/will direct your paths”, we can see that the “trust in Him” calls for “in all your ways, submit to Him”.  Another way of saying, is the person is one who embraces/walks in the ways of God, or His justice and righteousness; such a person, he loves God, and God knows him.  Is the LORD good; is He a stronghold in the day of trouble?  He sure is, most assuredly, for those who love Him; for those who love Him, are known to Him (support also comes from Ps 91:14-16).

From this article, you are to take away this:
What it takes to be known by God:
You need to belong to Him and you need to have positive personal experiences with Him.  Positive personal experiences and knowing are those leading to God saying “I know you”.  Negative knowing leads to God saying, “I don’t know you, you evildoer”. Be at the station God desires you to be, including doing the works of the station.  Better still, go abide in the Lord, and so, having the Lord abides in you.  And remember, the key to abiding in the Lord is your love for the Lord.  Focus your love – love God with your all.  Love the Lord, and it will be the surest way to be known by the Lord. 

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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